By: CAYLA RUPERT
The Undergraduate Research Conference has come a long way since its launch in 2007 and many new features have been added to the ever-changing event.
The ribbon was cut to break ground on student housing, four new degrees were added and the Undergraduate Research Conference was kicking off its first year at IU South Bend. The year was 2007 and the university was getting a makeover. Access and success were huge priorities for the campus and student involvement was the main focus.
The idea of getting students to intertwine their education with different aspects of campus helped jumpstart the idea of the URC.
According to university archives, the URC started out allowing on students from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to participate and concentrated primarily on psychology. Students received mentoring from faculty members in psychology, co-authored papers and participated in professional conferences during the spring and fall of 2007. Even though the first year of the URC was a success, IU
South Bend did not hold another URC until 2009.
The new era of the URC made its début in 2009, ready to engage students in the joys of research. James Smith, assistant professor of political science, was a moderator for the URC in 2009, a member of the organizing committee in 2012 and is now the conference chairman. Smith received an e-mail from former College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Lynn Williams in 2009 stating, “The Indiana University South Bend Undergraduate Research Conference will begin (again) this spring. The conference was established to provide a forum for undergraduates to share their research and creative activity with the IUSB community. The event will display the vitality of student scholarship on our campus and encourage its future growth.”
Alison Stankrauff, a member of the URC committee and former judge, has witnessed the positive changes in the past few years firsthand.
“I think we’ve been able to give the URC more formalization in terms of policies and guidance to students to make it the best experience for a conference,” said Stankrauff. “Also, it’s just gotten larger each year. There are more disciplines represented across the campus each year and more students each time.”
After five years, the URC has seen many faces, given out hundreds of awards and has given thousands of students the opportunity to show off their hard work for all of IU South Bend and the community. With a campus that is livelier than ever before, student housing and educations are expanding. The increasing number of students showing interest in both research and the conference has helped to ensure the continuous growth of the URC.